Stephan Guyenet discusses a study titled “A Satiety Index of Common Foods” by Dr. SHA Holt and colleagues.
This study, along with many others, suggests that focusing on simple foods that have a lower energy density leads to greater fullness and less subsequent food intake, and conversely that highly palatable energy-dense foods promote excessive food intake. Potatoes, sweet potatoes, meats, fish, vegetables, fruits, rice and beans are foods with a moderate level of palatability and energy density, and are consequently helpful for weight loss and maintenance. Conversely, baked goods, candy, ice cream and fried foods have the lowest SI, reflecting their extreme palatability and energy density. These are exactly the same foods people eat to relieve stress, which reinforces the fact that they are hyper-palatable and hyper-rewarding. In my opinion, these are among the most fattening foods, and the obesity literature as a whole supports this.
Read Stephan’s full post here.
I wouldn’t be surprised if this relationship was in some way an effect of missed dopamine predictions. I am currently reading How We Decide by Jonah Lehrer. He discusses how, after successfully learning an action to gain a reward, our brain releases dopamine in anticipation of the reward when we repeat that action. This means our brain learns patterns and reacts in expectation of those patterns. But, if that action response changes and no longer provides the same reward, our brain changes to no longer release dopamine. So if you are throwing back peanut-butter cups, each time anticipating that super-sweet reward, your brain releases dopamine as soon as you reach for the next bite, before you even open the wrapper. What would happen if you unwittingly grabbed a chunk of sweet potato that felt exactly like the candy? Total let-down on taste resulting in a reduced dopamine response. It’s a stretch, but I’ll bet you could break the streak of over-eating.